Here is a brief look at Press TV newsroom's headlines from 1800 GMT, December 30, 2018 to 0800 GMT, December 31, 2018.
US ‘fueling insecurity’
The chairman of the chiefs of staff of the Iranian armed forces says the United States is only fueling insecurity in the Persian Gulf and the region through its presence. Major General Mohammad Baqeri was speaking in the southern Iranian port city of Bandar Abbas. The top Iranian military chief said the plan of US President Donald Trump to withdraw troops from Syria was of no significance for defensive and security missions in the region. Baqeri said the US exit was a humiliating one and the American forces’ presence in Syria was without the consent and approval of the people of the country and its government.
Iraq role in Syria
The Iraqi prime minister has hinted that his country would play a bigger role in Syria to fight Daesh terrorists after the US forces’ withdrawal. Adel Abdul-Mahdi said Iraq seeks to move beyond its current arrangement with Syria, but did not get into more details. He added that top security officials from Baghdad met Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus. The premier noted that the Iraqi delegation visited Damascus to gain the initiative against Daesh. US President Donald Trump announced this month that he will withdraw American forces from Syria. Iraqi warplanes and artillery have pounded Daesh positions inside Syria in the past, after getting the green light from Syrian authorities.
Catalonia’s president has urged the Spanish government to engage in a sincere and courageous dialog to achieve a democratic solution to the crisis in the region. Quim Torra expressed concern over the state of democracy in Spain and called on Catalans to pursue their fundamental rights and stand against the rise of the far-right. Torra made the remarks during his new year’s message. He also paid homage to the jailed Catalan separatist prisoners, and renewed his government’s commitment to their freedom. Last year, the Catalan parliament declared the region's independence from Spain after the majority of the people voted in a referendum for Catalonia’s separation. The Spanish government, however, didn’t recognize the vote and launched a crackdown which put Catalan leaders behind bars.
Another Trump flip-flop
A senior Republican senator says President Donald Trump has promised to stay in Syria to finish the job of destroying Daesh. Lindsey Graham says Trump made the pledge during a lunch meeting with him. The South Carolina Republican says the US president understands what is at stake in Syria. Earlier this month, Trump tweeted that the Daesh terror group was defeated in Syria. He said the US would withdraw its troops from the country. The decision was severely criticized by both politicians and military officials. Many experts blame the policies of the US and its allies for the creation of Daesh.
In Bangladesh, the ruling Awami League party wins the country’s parliamentary elections, amid violence and fraud allegations. Election authorities say the alliance of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina won 288 seats with the main opposition securing only six seats. There are 300 parliamentary constituencies in Bangladesh. Based on the results, Hasina has secured a fourth term in office. The opposition has rejected the outcome of the parliamentary elections, calling for a new vote.
Russia-US missile row
The Russian foreign minister has criticized European leaders for following the US lead on the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. The top Russian diplomat cited European countries' failure to support a Moscow-backed resolution at the UN which would preserve the cold war-era accord. The US has threatened to unilaterally withdraw from the treaty that bans short and medium range ballistic missiles in Europe. Lavrov said Europe had expressed concern about the US decision, but its vote against the Russian proposal means it will now face the threat of American missiles. He stressed, however, that Russia will give a tit-for-tat response in case banned US missiles are placed in Europe. Elsewhere in his remarks, Lavrov highlighted Russia’s policy in dealing with the US pressure tactics.
Britons applying for Irish passport
A growing number of Britons are applying for Irish passports to keep their EU citizenship once the UK leaves the bloc next year. Ireland’s foreign office said the number of British citizens applying for Irish passports rose by over twenty percent in 2018. This is more than double the total number of annual applications registered in 2015, a year before the Brexit vote. British citizens who have been born in the Irish Republic or Northern Ireland or those with an Irish parent or grandparent are entitled to an Irish passport. London is officially set to leave the European Union next March. The mayhem surrounding the exit deal has raised the possibility of a no-deal divorce or even a cancellation of the whole thing.